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Near miss: dropped object during lifeboat testing

What happened?

During launch testing of a lifeboat, a turnbuckle and shackle weighing 7kg fell 23m from the davit onto the boat, landing within a metre of a worker hooking up the falls at the lifeboat hatch. The worker was physically unharmed; there was some cosmetic damage to the lifeboat.

What went wrong?

There was a mechanical failure – the turnbuckle was of a “closed” design that did not allow visual inspection of the thread engagement through the buckle. The threaded end of this turnbuckle was just 13cm and had one thread securing it into the buckle (see location of nut in illustration) on the threaded end. The bottom end was lost at sea.


  • The lifeboat was secured to the falls and the area cleared before it was lifted;
  • The remaining maintenance pennant turnbuckles were removed from the other lifeboats, and the threaded end measured was 17-18cm with plenty of thread though the buckle;
  • Similar turnbuckles on other vessels in this fleet were examined carefully;
  • Arrangements were made to replace “closed” turnbuckles with “open” turnbuckles that can be properly inspected;
  • Company arranged with the lifeboat OEM to source appropriately specified open type turnbuckles from their supplier;
  • Procedures revised to include thorough DROPS inspection of turnbuckles and other rigging overhanging the lifeboats before launch.

Members may wish to refer to

Viking Norsafe, the supplier of the davit system, has circulated a Product Awareness Notice relating to their E-110 Davit systems fitted with optional hanging off units using closed turnbuckles. It has been circulated to vessel owners with E-110 systems. It can be downloaded here.

Safety Event

Published: 30 October 2023
Download: IMCA SF 25/23

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